The Swedish-owned international furniture retailer, IKEA, is logging old-growth forests and other high conservation value forests in Russian Karelia through its subsidiary Swedwood. A petition has been launched by Swedish NGO Protect the Forest to help change IKEA and Swedwood’s destructive ways. The Global Forest Coalition (an alliance of NGOs with members in more than 40 countries) strongly condemns IKEA’s forest destruction activities in Russia. Swedish NGO Protect the Forest, a Global Forest Coalition member, and Russian environmental organization SPOK, conducted a field inspection in Russian Karelia, which revealed that IKEA’s wholly-owned subsidiary Swedwood had clear-cut forests with high biodiversity value and very old trees.
Josefin Thorell, a spokesperson with IKEA, admitted to mongabay that the average age of trees felled in the region is 160 years, but added that the age of the trees cut is less important than overall management of the concession.
"Responsible forestry is really about managing the forest in a way that protects biodiversity, rather than focusing on the age of individual trees," Thorell says. "We set aside 16-17 percent of the forest to protect high conservation values, which is well above legal requirements as well as FSC requirements. The level corresponds to the goal set by the UN in the Global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)."
IKEA is also not paying enough attention to the social impacts of their logging activities in Russian Karelia. A lack of dialogue and low wages are some of the problems.
According to Andrei Laletin of Friends of the Siberian Forests, Global Forest Coalition focal point in Russia, “It is very sad that forests that have taken centuries to mature can be lost in a few days. Thanks to IKEA’s promotion of the mass-consumption of cheap timber products, people’s appreciation of the true value of old forests is being undermined, and this threatens the rights of future generations to enjoy the benefits of our forest heritage.”
Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa, added: “The heavily green-washed ‘Swedish forestry model’, which promotes the destructive practice of logging old-growth forests, and replacement with monoculture tree plantations, is causing serious damage to forest ecosystems in many different countries. This leads to increased biodiversity loss, greater flooding and soil erosion, accelerated climate change, and also impacts severely on local communities whose wellbeing depends on healthy intact forests.”
Speaking for the Global Forest Coalition, the Executive Director, Simone Lovera, stated: “Whoever is responsible for this destruction, in this case the owners of IKEA and Swedwood, must be held responsible for the social and environmental costs of their companies’ actions. I suggest Protect the Forest and SPOK should consider all possible options, including legal action against IKEA, in order to correct the situation.”
A petition has been launched by Swedish NGO Protect the Forest to help change IKEA and Swedwood’s destructive ways. Now other environmental organizations from all over the world are also expressing their concern and outrage. The petition is addressed to the management of IKEA and Swedwood, with five demands for a more trustworthy IKEA. Anyone wanting to protest IKEA’s logging of old-growth forest is invited to sign the petition. Read more about the campaign and the petition.